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See-Through Network of Wires for More Efficient Solar Windows

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It may be a while, but soon enough plain glass windows will never be the same again! Thanks to scientists from New Energy Technologies, Inc and the NREL, if windows have a see-through wiring system attached to them, they’ll be able to harvest and conduct electricity.

The technology is especially attractive because there’s no way of spotting it, so the window doesn’t look weird in any way. The very thin net just needs to be placed onto SolarWindow(TM) and then it’s free to do its job, namely to collect electrons and relieve electrical “road-blocks.”

These are quite dangerous, since they create regions of high resistance, responsible for shrinking the flow of electrons. The result is then less power and reduced efficiency, which of course everybody wants to avoid.

But how did SolarWindow(TM) come to generate electricity in the first place? Well, it all happened when researchers decided to dispose really small, transparent solar cells instead of the usual thick, massive ones in a network onto the glass. Also, the way they placed them changed, so that the light was now able to get through and be absorbed.

The team went as far as breaking its own record in February this year, by producing the biggest organic photovoltaic (OPV) module NREL had seen so far – 14 times larger than its predecessors. This was considered an “important milestone” at the time, since it allows the team to work on 2 obstacles preventing commercialization: how structured and transparent is the wiring system and what the performance of the module as a whole really is.

With this “invisible” wiring system hooked on, the SolarWindow(TM) remains crystal clear when both natural and artificial light (like fluorescent lamps used in an office) hit it. More precisely, with artificial light, the SolarWindow(TM) works 10 times better than commercialized solar and thin-films under low-intensity lighting.

When sunlight came into contact, then SolarWindow(TM) managed to light up several LEDs. Thus, the technology can be used not only for lighting, but for mechanical devices and appliances as well.

[via EnergyHarvestingJournal]

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